Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee to face Sen. Harry Reid in November, is very conservative. We actually knew that before the Nevada primary was called for her on Tuesday night. What most people didn’t know was just how radical her views actually are. Now we’re reminded that, in an echo of Dr. Strangelove, Angle opposed flouridation. We’re told that she claimed to be a member of the Oath Keepers.
The same thing happened to Rand Paul—the most damaging, controversial things he supported and said only got national attention after he won the Republican nomination for Senate in Kentucky.
Here’s why this happens: Politicians in one party (in this case the Dems) are always rooting for the more vulnerable candidate to win the other party’s primary. So they hold off on releasing whatever dirt they’ve dug up on the weaker candidate until after the primary’s over.
It’s a good bet that some in the media was rooting for Angle last night. That’s not because journalists are rooting for Reid to face a weak candidate. It’s because they’re rooting for a good story. Angle’s hardcore conservatism makes her a great story. She’ll drive eyeballs and pageviews for the rest of the year, and help the journalists who cover her become nationally known.
It’s not that the media was holding back before—it’s just that there’s a lot to cover. Now Angle’s the only Republican in a top-tier race and the Dems oppo is about to be unleashed. Not only did she get more important when she won the primary—she also got a lot easier to cover. Everything she says will get a lot more attention, and she won’t be able to get away with gaffes that might have been survivable in the primary. If she slips up and says something that the media considers unforgivable (something that can be used to paint her as a racist, anti-semite, birther, or 9/11 truther, for example), she’ll get torn apart. It’s a nasty business.